Jeffree Star is best known as a beauty vlogger with his own makeup line. However, this year's fifth-highest-paid YouTube star is so much more than that. He got his start as a musician on the Warped Tour and a popular MySpace page before reinventing himself. Not only did he make $18 million over the past year, but his Jeffree Star Cosmetics has sold $100 million worth of lipstick, highlighters, and other products.
Jeffree Star was born Jeffrey Lynn Steininger on November 15, 1985 in Orange County, California. His mother was a model. His father committed suicide when Jeffree was six years old. Star was largely raised by his grandparents in Huntington Beach, California while his mom was working. He started experimenting with makeup in high school and quickly became enamored with it. He calls his look back "very goth and crazy," with spiky pink hair. He was open about his sexuality. He moved to Los Angeles after high school and worked as a model and makeup artist at a MAC store to make ends meet.
Long before YouTube came along, Jeffree was a MySpace sensation. He joined the site in 2003 and used it to promote his aspiring music career. However, he quickly got a huge amount of interest and followers for his appearance and attitude rather than his music. By 2006, Star was the most followed person on MySpace. He released his first and only album Beauty Killer in 2009. His song Lollipop Luxury featured Nicki Minaj. In 2010, he signed to Akon's record label. Akon called Star the next Lady Gaga. He planned to release a second album, but never did. He left the music industry in 2013 under mysterious circumstances.
He launched Jeffree Star cosmetics in 2014 with his life savings. A few minutes after his e-commerce shop went live with one product, a lipstick, every single item sold out. He reinvested the money he earned into his company and released three more shades of lipstick. In late 2015, Star began promoting his brand on YouTube, where, as of 2018, he has over a billion views. Today, he has a huge following on YouTube (nearly 10 million subscribers), Twitter (2.3 million followers), and Instagram (7.5 million followers). He shares makeup tutorials and product reviews across his social media channels. Jeffree earns about $4,500 a day from his YouTube channel alone. That's $1.7 million a year! But that's pennies compared to Star's other business…
Jeffree's eponymous makeup line started with liquid lipsticks and now sells eye shadows, highlighter palettes, lip products, clothing, and accessories. He brings in money from his cosmetics, touring, and deals with brands such as Morphe makeup brushes. But it's the makeup line that is the real gold mine. He also has rumored lines with Cardi B and SOPHIE in the works.
It is hard to mention Star without talking about the controversies he has been embroiled in. First, there were the old videos that surfaced of him shouting racial slurs. Last year, he made a video apologizing for his racism in the past, claiming he has grown in the decade since the worst of the videos were posted. The most significant scandal Jeffree has been involved in is a video that Star seems to have intended as comedy in which he talked about throwing battery acid on an African American girl's face to lighten her skin so that her foundation matches.
We've known for a few years that the most popular YouTube stars make crazy money. Star's $18 million haul and 5th place ranking show that he is here to stay.